Taste of Japan: Guam School offers language, culture studies

Taste of Japan: Guam School offers language, culture studies

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Do you know Guam offers a Japanese school for children in preschool (K-4) through the 9th grade?

Founded in 1989, the Japanese School of Guam runs on the same curriculum and textbooks of public schools in Japan. The school is accredited by both the governments of Japan and Guam, and teaches kids about the Japanese language, culture and good manners.

According to Keiko Dakanai, the chief admin officer of the Japanese School of Guam, a lot of American parents on Guam are interested in having their children learn the Japanese language, culture and manners at her school.

“Some of them sent their children to us, looking to continue their studies according to the Japanese school system, as they had enrolled at local Japanese schools before moving to Guam,” Dakanai said.

On Guam, knowing Japanese is considered as a great asset in the island’s tourism industry, as more than 900,000 Japanese tourists visit every year - more than 70 percent of all the visitors of the island. So, good language skills gained at the school can translate into good job opportunities later in life.

Since the school runs on Japanese fundamental values, it also puts an emphasis on raising children to be punctual, clean and polite, according to Dakanai.

“Our school helps children to gain dignity through the school life and various traditional school events, such as sports day and a school trip to Japan,” she said.

Rosalina Huhne, an American parent who is sending her two children, Aric and Zachary, to the school expecting that they will learn a second language (Japanese) and to be respectful, self-sufficient and confident through a well-rounded education.

“So far the school has exceeded our expectations, and our children are very happy being there,” Huhne said. “They enjoy the art, music, calligraphy, science projects and the physical activities etc.”  

“Our kids are far ahead of the curve on math and basic science, and they have opportunities for fun music and sports activities during and after school,” added G. Curt Fiedler, another American parent who has his three children, Hana Nami and Joli enrolled at the school. “The school has a safe and positive learning environment.”

At the school, 13 American students (eight from military families) are studying side by side with 68 Japanese students under the eyes of 25 teachers and staffers (as of Apr. 2016), according to Dakanai.

A regular school day is made up of seven 45-minute classes from 8:10 a.m. to 3:55 p.m., in conformity with the guidelines of the Japanese Ministry of Education.

In the afterschool program, English class is offered to primary students while abacus calculation, art, music and sports classes are provided to advanced students.

Its supplementary school program for students from preschool through 9th grade, offers a chance for local students to learn various Japanese subjects while they remain enrolled in their local Guam schools. During the supplementary school program, students are required to put their strong efforts into preparing for the Japanese Language and Kanji Proficiency Examinations, as good marks on the exams help students when they take entrance exams for Japanese universities, according to Dakanai.

Admissions to the school (both regular and supplementary school programs) are open throughout the year, although the new academic year begins in April, just like in Japan.

“The school is small and feels really at home,” Dakanai said. “If you are interested in our school, feel free to contact us for a visit.”

You can find out more about the school at www.japaneseschoolguam.com, or call 734-8024.

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